Tag Archives: Moses

God, The Center

Studies in Genesis 2

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4 ESV)

One of the questions puzzling theologians and lay persons for as long as there has been theologians and lay persons is “why did God give Genesis 1-2:3 in the way He has given?” He has not given a scientific account of creation. There are too many anomalies and not nearly enough precision. Yet, all of the scientific evidence gathered since Man was created in the image of God shows a God who is precise to the atomic level and smaller. God created in such a way, giving Man such a mind, His work is scientifically discoverable and knowable. We want to know.

Nor is Genesis 1-2:3 an historical account. There are too many gaps, not enough detail scattered throughout huge chunks of time. Yet, Man, or at least many men, strive to discover and document history. We cannot know exactly what happened in the past, because we were not there, but we can examine the evidence and draw conclusions of what did happen. Though the future is not knowable knowing history helps make decisions about the future. We want to know.

Some have suggested Moses wrote these words as an answer or rebuttal to Egyptian mythology. But, God does not react to people, nations and cultures. He acts according to His determined personality and will. He does not excuse the misinterpretation of the facts by any individual, conceding and overlooking their idolatrous conclusions. He is God and will not be ignored or overlooked.

Where Genesis 1-2:3 points directly toward God, as does all of creation and Scripture, Genesis 2:4 begins placing Man at the focus of God’s work. Man was created in God’s image for relationship with Him. Man’s purpose is found only in God’s eternal will, exercised first in the temporary space-time universe then carried into eternity. Genesis 2:4 through the rest of Scripture is the description of what God has done and is doing to strengthen Man’s purpose and relationship with Him. Yet, Scripture is a history of Man’s struggle to do and be something other than God’s declared intention.

We want to know exactly what happened in Genesis 1-2:3 not because we are curious but so we can have control. Nowhere in Scripture does God cede His control over creation, all creation, to a creature. Our understanding of God begins, not with ourselves but with Him who created us in His image. Our theology must never be anthropocentric but theopocentric.

Jesus Christ, completely God and completely a Servant born into humanity in the likeness of Man, is the Creator of the universe and the Author of Scripture. Though Moses wrote the first five books of Scripture, Jesus is the Author. We do not need to know Moses’ reason for writing but God’s intent. We must take care to not add to what He has written our own assumptions and desires.

Those compelled to study Scripture, to write and teach Scripture, carry a fear. Fear of God, in the true sense of fearing God. Fear of unrighteousness, that what is learned, written about and taught may lead astray. Fear of self and the tendency to point to self and not Jesus, God who created all and authored Scripture. Such fear does not incapacitate but does slow down and allow God the authority to direct and lead. As we continue studying Genesis my God direct and lead our thoughts and learning always to His Son.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1 ESV)

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Peter and Stephen

Those who have the pure salt of righteousness and shine God’s truth through their persons in a world darkened by sin will naturally face persecution. Creatures of darkness cannot abide the light for they fear exposure and run away from anything touched by light. But the light of truth cannot be hidden any more than it can be extinguished, especially when the source of light is God Himself, who is truth. Nor will the salt of righteousness lose its saltiness from those abandoned to God simply because of the hatred of the world.

Stephen was a Grecian Jew probably born outside of Judea or Galilee. He was one of the Diaspora, in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover or Pentecost and staying when he heard either Jesus teach or one of the Apostles, Peter maybe, or John. This is all speculation. We know little about Stephen other than his name, that he was chosen with six others to help serve the growing church, and that he was a godly man filled with the Holy Spirit. We also know he had a good grasp of Israel’s history and was unafraid of the Jewish leadership. We know he was persecuted and murdered because of his stance for Jesus and the gospel. We know he was falsely accused and offered a defense using his accusers own history. His story is in Acts 7.

Israel’s history condemns them for it is their history which God used to point to His Son. Using normal sinful thinking these Jews pluck out the good things from their history ignoring the sinful behavior of their ancestors. Jesus, Peter, and Stephen would not allow them this luxury. They, just like their fathers, were prone to idolatry.

Peter, an untrained teacher, also used Israel’s history to point to Jesus, His death and resurrection. None of those who confronted Peter could disprove his words. They could not produce Jesus’ body. Nor could they stand against Peter’s words before the people. Many entered God’s kingdom because of Peter’s words and miracles.

Steven did the same thing. “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you’” [Acts 7:2-3, ESV].

Peter used the words of Moses to prick the consciences of his hearers, words they knew well.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.  And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness. [Acts 3:22 ESV]

Stephen used the same illustration from Scripture. “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us” [Acts 7:37-38, ESV].

Peter brought his teaching to the place where he accused the Jews of killing God’s Righteous One. Stephen did the same. Peter saw thousands come to God through the gospel and felt the lashes of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing in his sharing in the suffering of Christ. Some came into the kingdom from Stephen’s teaching while he lived. He felt the stones of their hatred toward God while asking God to forgive them. How many has God made righteous through the light of Stephen?  We do not know. It does not matter to us. What matters is we, too, are willing to shine light in a world dedicated to darkness and hatred for God.

Those who hate God think they can extinguish a person’ s light and nullify their righteousness through persecution and intimidation or by killing them. Jesus was raised from the dead. The hatred of the world is evidence of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven’s righteous standing before God.

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” [Acts 4:19-20, ESV]

“Rest in Peace”

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.  And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. [Luke 12:4-9 ESV]

If there is anything consistent in the makeup of man it is the reality of sin and consequent physical death. In our rebellion we excuse and ignore sin. We cannot ignore or avoid death. We can refuse to acknowledge God all of our physical lives until we come before Him.

Jesus told His disciples of His impending death at the hands of His enemies in Jerusalem.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’”[Matthew 16:21-22 ESV]

I think Peter spoke for the group. He pulled Jesus aside and rebuked Him, suggesting Jesus was not going to die as He described. While we could debate Peter’s motivations his refusal to accept the impending death of a loved one is more prominent. He could not imagine the man before him, robust, quick witted, strong, facing death. Jesus bested the Pharisees. He would continue to best them. There is no way Jesus would be murdered by anyone.

Jesus rebuked the liar who inspired Peter to believe the lie. “Get behind me Satan” [Matthew 16:23 ESV]. Wishful thinking is just that. It has no foundation in truth and therefore no substance.

Christians are probably more afraid of the process of dying than of actual death. If we knew when we were going to die would we not get our house in order? Would we tremble and quake because we do not know Him or face death with peace because we do know Him. Moses was told he would not enter the Promised Land so he prepared the people to follow God after his death. Then was gathered to his people atop a mountain overlooking the land he could not enter. There is no indication he feared dying.

Often it is not the one dying who is afraid but those around facing the reality of losing a loved who are the most distressed. Leaving loved ones, through death, might bring resignation and acceptance of one’s circumstance. Trapped by the world, those staying want to build a false peace to placate their emotional upheaval.

“Rest in peace” is an accepted euphemism stuffed with wishful thinking. Where there is no peace with God there can be no peace in death. Where there is no fear of God there is no desire to be right before Him. Death becomes a purposefully ignored unknown filled with superstitious possibilities based upon fantasy.

Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem where He would face a violent death at the hands of professional executioners. He knew this and He was at peace. He asked God to take away the cup, but submitted Himself to His Father, for He knew the peace He had could not be taken, even by death. How we face death, our own and the death of a loved one, is a test. Do we know we have peace with God? Do we know the person dying has peace with God? Do we live for God?

Death could not hold Jesus. He was raised from the dead. Those who are His need have no fear of death. Those who are not His should absolutely fear death.

Giving to God

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]

God tests the hearts of men, not because He needs to know what is in the heart. We need to know the thinking of our hearts. Testing is a good thing for those willing to see themselves through God’s eyes, measure themselves by His standard, acknowledge Him as the only Authority and Judge.

When God called His people out of Egypt He told them to plunder the Egyptians. Hundreds of years earlier God told Abraham, without naming Egypt, what would happen. “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” [Genesis 15:13-14 ESV].

When God sent Moses to bring His people out of Egypt God instructed His nation what to do as they were leaving.  “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians” [Exodus 3:21-22 ESV]. To “plunder” is to gather the “spoil” from the battlefield or a country and people after a military defeat.

He gave them plunder for several reasons. First, as payment for years of slave labor. Secondly, when it was time to construct the tent of meeting they would have the necessary materials and would give freely. Finally, when they went into the Promised Land and followed His instruction to keep nothing for themselves they would have plenty and not covet what was devoted to God.

Between the plundering of Egypt as they left their enslavement for freedom, and the giving of an abundant offering for the tent of meeting, God tested His people so they would see the thinking of their hearts. While Moses was up on the Mountain receiving the commands of God the people rebelled and made an idol, attributing to the idol the work of God. Aaron listened to them and instructed them to bring their golden earrings.

So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [Exodus 32:2-4 ESV]

People wore gold earrings for decoration, insurance and a sign of devotion to a idol. Should they die in the open and were found by a stranger, the stranger would bury them and take the gold earring as payment. Or they could, when they died, bribe their way into the god’s presence. Most likely they were simply vain. Whatever is true the gold in their ears was the only thing of value they carried from Egypt which belonged to them. God gave them everything else of value they possessed. It was “their” property used to construct and idol. It was “God’s” property used to construct the tent of meeting, a place to offer worship to God.

God’s test of the heart is what I see is mine versus what I know is His. If I think it is mine, that I earned it and possess it, then it becomes an idol. This “thinking of the heart” focuses upon me, separating me from my true place as God’s servant. It is an issue of control. When Adam fell after rebelling against God, the image of God in him was corrupted, not excised. Part of that image is “dominion.” We fight God for control refusing to give Him what we think belongs to us. God tests the purity of the heart through the act of giving.

Giving Respect

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. [Exodus 3:1-6 ESV]

We cannot stand before God as we are. Only those who are pure have the privilege of being in God’s presence. Sin made us impure, filling the thinking of our hearts with the corruption of evil desires against God and toward others. However, on occasion in Scripture God, the Son, appeared to some treating them as pure. These appearances of the preincarnate Christ are called theophanies.

God, the Son, first appeared to Moses in a burning bush. Moses, probably 80 years old at the time, Had been a shepherd for 40 years and saw everything the desert offered. When he saw something unusual, a bush on fire but not burning, he investigated.

From the bush God spoke to Moses, saying his name twice. Moses answered, not knowing with whom he was speaking. “Here I am.” This was the proper way to answer an authority summoning a servant. “I am here, at your disposal.” When God called, Moses answered with a submissive voice, a posture of respect before God.

God declared the ground upon which Moses standing holy. There is no indication the ground was forever holy. Wherever God is, is holy. God met Moses on Mount “Horeb” which means a “desolate wasteland.” From then on Moses identified it as the Mountain of God. Moses removed his sandals, an act of obedience and great respect. God demands respect and has the authority to expect both obedience and respect from those who belong to Him.

Responding respectfully to God’s summons is evidence of training but not purity of the thinking of the heart. Obedience with selfless motives shows the heart God is preparing for eternity.

God identified Himself and Moses responded without being told what to do. “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” What was Moses’ response? “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Standing in the presence of Holy God exposed his true sinful self. Before God makes anyone pure they must first acknowledge their sinfulness and recognize the consequences of their sin. Then they must relinquish control of themselves to the God they serve.  God will use whom He will.

In the exchange which follows God never asked Moses to do His will. Always, even when Moses made excuses, God commanded him to go and speak. Obedience is expected.

Training has its place. Responding correctly and respectfully is proper and necessary. True humility before God reveals the changing thoughts of the heart of the one chosen by God. Do not mistake how God uses those who are His. Few are given the challenge of doing something spectacular for God. Mostly, it is obedience in the daily and mundane which brings the most glory to Him. For the daily and mundane reveal the true person. We are called to uninterrupted obedience to His commands and continual respect for His Person.

Jesus’ Mercy Toward a Father and Son

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.”

And Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. [Matthew 17:14-18 ESV].

A father’s cry. “Lord, have mercy on my son.” And then, and honest rebuke. “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” Does our Lord have no compassion on the pitiable condition of either the father or the son? Have they done something wrong to receive such a strong rebuke?

Yes.

Both father and son had done something wrong. They sinned. Perhaps, a better explanation is they could do nothing but sin. Although the ultimate consequence of sin is eternal separation from God there are immediate, short-term effects. For the boy, one such effect was demon-possession. For the father believing at any time, anything other than God is capable of fulfilling his needs. They, and we, are members of a fallen people living our lives in a way and manner which excludes God from His rightful place. Even living under the illusion we are within His expectations when we  are not and never have been.

Jesus uses the word “faithless” means the exact opposite of “faith”. Faith always encompasses three elements, belief in God’s truth, trusting His decisions and obeying His commands. Faith involves the whole person, mind, emotions and will. “Twisted,” another word Jesus uses, means perverse, distorted, misshapen, and is the obvious consequence of sin. Every generation is twisted by sin cutting off the flow of God’s provision received through the conduit of faith. Twisted and faithless describes everyone affected by sin, which is everyone except Jesus, the Son of God.

Faithlessness breeds desperation and hopelessness as seen in the father’s distressed request. Like everyone around him he showed no faith. And like everyone alive at that time the son was twisted. Yet, the father was also twisted and the son, no matter his age, was also faithless. They were twisted by sin and taught to not place faith in the ultimate Object of faith. Those standing around were equally faithless and twisted. His disciples, standing with the crowd, unable to do anything, were like all the rest. They had God in their midst and still they twisted their thoughts about Him declaring Him something other than the Great I Am.

Does this sound harsh and merciless? Is my thinking wrong? Should we put aside truth because of circumstance, conveniently forgetting the truth of sin because the obvious effects of sin capture our attention and prick our own wounded spirits? No father or mother should ever have to watch one of their children suffer. No son or daughter should have to suffer. Isn’t this the way we think? How could God be so cruel to allow such hopelessness?

What do we do with God’s word and the charges against us?

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [Romans 3:10-18 ESV; Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; 36:1]

What do we do with Jesus’ words “O faithless and twisted generation”?

Peter, James and John had just witnessed something few people throughout history had seen. Moses and Elijah were the only others in recorded history to actually see Jesus, a theophany of God, in His glory. Both men were hidden from the face of God but saw His back or His hand. No sinful person can look upon the face of God and live. This does not mean sinful man could not see the glory of God. Many saw God’s glory in visions and dreams. Peter, James and John saw the momentary metamorphosis of Jesus, into what He truly is.

Then they came down the mountain into the sinful world.

Mark’s Gospel in 9:20-22 gives more detail. Jesus asked how long he had suffered and his father responds from childhood. The demon, recognizing Jesus convulses the boy, throwing him into what appears as an epileptic fit. Again, the father asks if Jesus can do anything. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” [Mark 9:22 ESV].

Jesus’ response pinpoints the father’s lack of faith, of believing God, trusting Him and obeying His command. “If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes” [Mark 9:23 ESV]. This is another astounding statement directed at everyone within hearing. The word “believe” is the word for having faith. The object of such faith must be God and nothing else. Such faith cannot be corrupted or twisted by sin. The result of such faith is always God’s will, never the will of any man.

Follow the discussion between Jesus and everyone around, everyone involved in the circumstance. The father immediately recognized the war between his faith, “I believe” and that faith twisted by sin, “help my unbelief” [Mark 9:24 ESV]. Jesus, having mercy on both the father and son and all watching commands the demon remove itself from the boy. We know nothing else about the father or boy. We never see them again.

Afterward Jesus’ disciples come to Him and ask why they could not do what He just did. Jesus’ answer confirms their twisted faith. The word used is the same as “faithless.” The ESV is generous in its translation and gives the wrong impression, suggesting they had even a little faith. “Because of your little faith (faithlessness). For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” [Matthew 17:20 ESV]. They did not have little faith. They had no faith.

God’s mercy is not dependent upon our faith, our works or our good standing before Him. His mercy is active love extended to those undeserving of His love. His mercy is given to those who rebel against Him, who fight Him, but who still acknowledge His sovereignty over their lives. His mercy is given to those He has chosen for His reasons and according to His will. Extended to all, His mercy is received by those who cry out “I believe. Help by unbelief.”

Manassah and God’s Mercy

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. [2 Chronicles 33:1-2 ESV]

God worked in the life and reign of Hezekiah, Manassah’s father.  Hezekiah was a wise man at 25 years old because he listened to those counseling him and sought God like king David, doing what was right in God’s eyes. He felt the weight of his responsibility as king, serving God seriously. He led stubborn Israel in the ways of God. Did he not teach his son Manassah to do the same? If he did, Manassah did not learn from his father. Everything his father had done Manassah undid.

Manaassah’s anger toward God is obvious. What else would drive a man toward evil who had been raised to worship the God of Israel? Manassah was wicked.

God’s promises are stated explicitly in Scripture. Scripture are the words of God every king was to write down for themselves, to know and follow. Scripture were the words the people promised God they would follow after He brought them out of Egypt, led them through their wanderings in the desert, then into the Promised Land. He told them to teach His words to their children. He told them to follow His words and He would bless them. He told them if they did not follow His words His wrath toward them would exceed His wrath toward the nations they displaced. “I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses” [2 Chronicles 33:8; cf. 2 Kings 21:8 ESV].

Manassah exceeded the evil of those who lived in the land before Israel. “Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel” [2 Chronicles 33:9; cf. 2 Kings 21:9 ESV]. Manassah led the people into greater evil than any other king of Judah.

God gives to people leaders who will accomplish His decrees. Where His people are stubborn and complaining He will give them leaders to quench their stubbornness and silence their complaining. Moses was such a leader. David was such a leader. But, if the people will not listen and continue to rebel, for stubbornness and complaining are evidence of rebellion, He will give them a leader to teach them their rebellion is sin and convince them to return to Him. Manassah and Ahab were such leaders. Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom never brought the people back to God. In God’s grace, and the harshness of the disciple, Manassah did.

Throughout Scripture are examples of God’s mercy and grace and the personal responsibility those who are His carry before Him. God’s mercy and grace do not absolve anyone from their responsibilities. Grace and mercy freely release the person from the justified sentence of separation from God because of their rebellion when the consequence of the sentence was felt and born by Jesus on the cross. Release from the immediate and temporal cost of rebellion does not happen. What we sow, we will reap. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of one sin. David suffered the consequences of his repeated adulteries though he repented and receive mercy and grace. Manassah sowed sin and rebellion against God and reaped the consequences as determined by the known words and will of God.

Manassah was an evil man. He lead and encouraged Israel to commit idolatry, to worship a lie. He sacrificed his own children in the fire to a detestable idol demon. He consulted those who practiced the occult instead of God’s prophets and priests. He did these things for years. Manassah murdered people. When God spoke to Manassah he ignored Him. When God spoke to His people during Manassah’s reign they ignored Him. Israel followed their leader. “The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention” [2 Chronicles 33:10 ESV]. God told them they would be punished but they did not listen to the warning, repent and turn away from their sin.

Enter God’s rod of punishment, the King of Assyria. “Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon” [2 Chronicles 33:11 ESV]. The word “hooks” means to pierce, as in through the nose. Manassah was bound with bronze shackles and led to Babylon by a chain attached to a hook in his nose. His humiliation was complete.

God knew Manassah would learn from the harsh discipline, repent and turn toward Him, seeking to know Him both intellectually and intimately. Lessons learned from Hezekiah his father were not completely forgotten, rising to the surface in his humiliation and  agony. “And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God” [2 Chronicles 33:12-13 ESV].Though his repentance is not found in 2 Kings it is real, a historical fact in Scripture.

God showed mercy to Manassah, one of the most corrupt kings to reign over Judah. His corruption dissolved in the harsh disciplines of God at the hands of an enemy king, the king of Assyria, who was even more corrupt than Manassah. All are used by God to accomplish His decrees. As evidence of God’s mercy, Manassah was returned to Jerusalem as king, and of his repentance he tore down the idols and false alters and rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. But, the consequences of his leading the people astray, for they continued to worship idols, is also evident. Manassah was released from experiencing the wrath of God and showed his changed character by trying to undo all the effects of his rebellion. He was unable to. God used his evil actions, and his repentance, to teach a stubborn and complaining people about mercy, His active love.

Manassah learned his lesson. Most of the people of Judah refused to learn. God does not change but acts according to His love and justice. His purpose is to bring people back to Himself and will use the right means to accomplish His ends which are always for our benefit. Unless we refuse to learn.